Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Topeka Decriminalizes Domestic Violence

In a follow-up to a previous post, we find that Topeka, Kansas has made good on their threat to remove their domestic violence law from the books (trigger warning for photos of injuries), making DV legal in the city of Topeka. Domestic battery is still illegal in Shawnee County, the county in which Topeka is located, but the Shawnee District Attorney had previously announced that, due to budget cuts, he would no longer prosecute misdemeanors, including domestic violence, occurring in Topeka.
Topeka has had at least 35 reported incidents of domestic battery or assault since early September. Those cases are not being pursued, and as of last Friday, 18 people jailed have been released without facing charges, according to Topeka police. Prosecutors and police have refused to discuss details of the cases out of concern for victims' privacy, making it difficult to assess in what situations suspects aren't being prosecuted.

The use of a weapon in an assault or battery makes a crime a felony, which would be handled in state court.

Taylor's decision has prompted furious reactions nationwide, and county commissioners say they've received hundreds of emails in the past few days from people upset by Taylor's move and the city's response. Outside the Shawnee County Courthouse on Tuesday, about two dozen people carried signs protesting the moves.

It also doesn't help that the possible repeal comes during National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

"It can't continue like this. They have to be prosecuted," said County Commissioner Ted Ensley, a Democrat. "Supposing they're charged and they're not prosecuted and it ends up they go back and cause a death of a woman or a child."
We can only hope that officials resolve this situation quickly, and that this debacle doesn't lead to a homicide.

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